It’s time for a National Anthem presentation that will UNITE US ALL
and begin building trust between communities and their police:
For a month now, I've been holding on to and making small edits to the all-encompassing (no one’s out of the line of fire) 'Community Policing Challenge' letter. It's a result of my wife telling me to stop complaining about the National Anthem protests and police misconduct issues and write a letter. The letter, among other calls to action, outlines one simple act that can right the two wrongs in the current protests during the National Anthem. The idea is so simple and community-building that I thought some pro athlete would have done it by now.
But, instead … 10 weeks have passed and the chasm between athlete activists, like Kaepernick (and his supporters), and the police has only grown further apart. Perhaps, that's because, instead of accepting the invitation from police to talk, meet, and start addressing the police misconduct and racial injustice issues, he's been working on a Black Panther inspired 'Know Your Rights Camp' - one that he launched this past weekend and does not appear to welcome police involvement. On top of that, I can't freely conduct a proper National Anthem involving police officers with student athletes because that's become a 'political' issue now that has to go all the way up the chain-of-command to our County Sheriff for approval.
So, I have reached my boiling point and have to post this letter and live up to Gandhi's words.
“You may never know what results come of your actions, but if you do nothing, there will be no results.” ― Mahatma Gandhi
I am in pain witnessing how divisive our country is becoming.
I am disgusted, not only with the conduct of our Presidential candidates, but also by the battleground being created between citizens and police within many communities.
I am disappointed that NFL and other athletes selected a protest format that enraged folks about Our Flag and its National Anthem protocol, rather than garnering support with a better protest format for their objection to police misconduct and racial injustices.
And, I am ashamed that I have not stepped in to take action earlier.
Like most of you, my eyes were opened, 10 weeks ago, by the pre-game protests that inflamed many Americans. Many citizens, and especially veterans like myself, because of the format of the athletes’ protest, focused on their ‘National Anthem protest’ as an affront to Our Flag and those who fight for our freedoms. Unfortunately, with that outlook, I, and many others, missed the protesters’ intended outcry against police misconduct and social injustice. Then, two months ago, I decided to explore the demonstrators’ real objection. Since then, I have become ashamed that I didn’t research earlier and take more seriously the real problem of mistrust between communities and their police. Regardless, as a former USMC officer who took an oath to support and defend our Constitution, I must take action and help try to make things right.
To start, I challenge the Department of Justice, Community Police, Citizens, President, and Kaepernick to address the action items outlined below. Additionally, I summons the NFL and/or other athletic event protesters, who missed an opportunity during the recent ‘National Community Policing Week’ to begin the process towards reconciliation, to agree:
Now is the time to begin uniting and building trust between police and the communities they serve. Specifically, I challenge everyone (pro, college, and youth athletes, and community members at-large) to boldly invite police, who are probably already at your event serving and protecting, to join your pre-game National Anthem ceremony. During the National Anthem, stand united, shoulder-to-shoulder with police, and place your hand upon your heart promising together to live up to Our Flag’s tenets of liberty, justice, and equality. Then, after the Anthem, show a willingness to work together and begin building trust by raising your interlocked hands together. [Coming soon: a ‘Community Policing National Anthem Challenge’ video example] This goodwill approach is a calling across the USA to have a community-building National Anthem ceremony and follow it up with tangible actions off-the-field.
To that end, here is a starter list of action items for all of us community policing partners, nationally and locally, to address: (Post responses to Twitter… #CommunityPolicingChallenge)
-President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing:
1) Please, inform America, via Twitter #CommunityPolicingChallenge, if this or another organization, probably within the Department of Justice, has secured funding and is working on a National Standard for Use of Force and De-escalation Training for community police to use?
2) Please, review the following recommendations and consider them when drafting new national use-of-force standards, legislature, and other community policing directives:
a) Police Executive Research Forum’s (PERF’s) ‘Guiding Principles on Use of Force’ at http://www.policeforum.org/assets/30%20guiding%20principles.pdf), and
b) Shaun King’s solutions for improving community policing (https://www.facebook.com/shaunking/posts/1136506649721585)
-U.S. Justice Department’s COPS (Community Oriented Policing Services) program:
Please, post the list or provide access to search the database of community policing organizations that have acknowledged receipt of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing and its Implementation Guide. This will enable citizens to verify if their community is addressing the important action items requested by this task force and insert themselves into this process. [Reference: President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, Implementation Guide, and Annual Report = http://cops.usdoj.gov/policingtaskforce]
-Citizens / Community Members:
At least 1000 citizens post to Twitter (#CommunityPolicingChallenge) that they reviewed the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing and contacted their local community policing organization to make sure they are aware of this document and its call to action – particularly as it pertains to the ‘Five Things Law Enforcement Can Do’ on page 11 of the Task Force Implementation Guide.[Reference: 21st Century Policing Implementation Guide = http://cops.usdoj.gov/policingtaskforce]
-Community Policing Organizations:
At least 500 community policing organizations acknowledge receipt and affirm, via Twitter #CommunityPolicingChallenge, that your department is taking action as it pertains to the ‘Five Things Law Enforcement Can Do’ on page 11 of the 21st Century Policing - Implementation.
-Representative Gwen Moore:
Please, provide America, via Twitter #CommunityPolicingChallenge, a status report on your bill, H.R. 5221 – Preventing Tragedies Between Police and Communities Act of 2016. And, inform America what the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations has been doing for the nearly 6 months since you proposed a ‘National Standard for De-escalation Training and Use of Force’ bill.
-President Obama’s staff:
Please, provide us with a status report, via Twitter #CommunityPolicingChallenge, on the top, overarching recommendation, to you in the spring of 2015, by the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing – to create a National Crime and Justice Task Force. I searched online and within the Whitehouse.gov website and cannot find any indication that actions have or are being taken by the President with regard to this recommendation.
Ten weeks had passed with what appeared to be little to no action backing up your protest. But, you surprised me, and hopefully many others, with your ‘Know Your Rights Camp’ on Saturday, October 30. The work you personally put into this event and attention given to at-risk youth is admirable. But, I wish, I challenge, you to take it a few steps further by:
1)Telling kids, ’You have the right to know your police.’ Invite police to your next ‘Know Your Rights Camp’ so that kids and police start to develop trustworthy, not adversarial, relationships.
2)Working both sides of the racial injustice issue.
a)Accept the invitation of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, and others I bet you received, to experience their police training program after the season is over https://www.facebook.com/ACSOSheriffs/posts/1087895894622565:0
b)Discuss with law enforcement the steps that need to be taken to build trust between police and the communities they serve. Yes, it’s difficult to face those to whom you are opposed, but, if you only address one side of the equation, this issue will never improve.
3)Taking the high road. Get out of your comfort zone and inspire police and community members to do the same by inviting police to stand next to you during the Anthem and issue the ‘Community Policing National Anthem Challenge’ for others to follow.
So, while I stand for police and community solidarity and kneel praying for its fulfillment, please, help America make progress toward forming “a more perfect Union”.
- a fellow American who wants to see us live up to Our Flag’s / Our Nation’s tenets and aspirations …to be ‘indivisible, with liberty and justice for all’ (Sean Sweeney)
Stand United with Our Flag and Pursue its Lofty Tenets Locally